Clothing and Accessories for the Saltwater Fisherman

Having the right clothing and accessories will keep you comfortable and on the water longer. Makes sense, right? It also protects you from the harsh environment you're fishing in. Here are the major categories and recommendations.

Shirts and Pants

There are lots of different brands of fishing shirts and pants, and the bottom line is this: They need to be lightweight and comfortable. I see them as a back up for sunscreen so I almost always wear long sleeves and pants.

Plus I’ve found direct sunlight drains me. And if you look at the guys who work outside all day when it’s hot they wear long sleeves – evaporation keeps them cooler.

I’ve had good experiences with Columbia and Magellan clothing, Academy’s brand. My favorite is Simms. They are a fly fishing company, specializing in waders, boots, and clothing. You don’t have to be a fly fisherman, but you do have to shell out a few more bucks. But their stuff looks great, holds up well, and I think it’s worth it.

Belts

I’m not writing about belts as a fashion statement but because of their good use when wade fishing. Being in the water, especially in the surf, is like getting tugged on all day. Anything that isn’t tight and secure will get worked out and then be a pain in the butt. So wear one that will hold up in saltwater and cinch it up. You’ll be more comfortable on the water.

Socks

Same story here as the belts above. When wearing waders, make sure you’re wearing socks that will make your boots tight. The other important factor is your warmth and comfort. Hands and feet are the first to get cold, so wear warm socks in the winter. I wear my flats boots in the summer and have a pair of Simms socks designed for wet wading that have worked very well.

Boots

Boots are my preference over neoprene booties for a couple reasons. I think they protect you from shell and rocks better. I can also cinch them up easier, which is very important when wading in mud.

Some people prefer boots designed to protect from stingrays. I can’t argue with them, but shuffling my feet and avoiding them when I see them has worked for me. And I’ll bet they make them more comfortable when I tried a pair on years ago.

Buffs

These are nifty little things for keeping the sun off your face and neck. They also make you look mean! I’ve found mine useful so I don’t have to worry as much about sweating or wiping off sunscreen. And surprisingly I’ve found them comfortable to wear even when it was very hot. And I think it will come in handy when it gets cold.

Hats

These fall under that don’t leave home without them category. Keeping the sun off your head and face when it’s hot is important, and helps you see well. Speaking of sun, the wider brim hats are better for that but get blown around in the wind. When it gets cold, hats are essential for keeping you warm. Lots of heat escapes from our head, so have a warm one. I use a waterproof duck hunting hat and I’m always glad I have it.

Sunglasses

I’d rather leave just about anything else at the house than my sunglasses. They are extremely important for your comfort, for your sight, and protection. And polarized glasses are the way to go. They block glare coming off the water, allowing you to see better.

I’ve had a pair of Smith glasses for years and absolutely love them. They aren’t cheap, but I take care of them and haven’t lost them. If you don’t keep up with sunglasses very well get some inexpensive ones- just make sure they’re polarized.

Waders

When it cools off you can’t wade without them. I like breathables because I can layer clothing underneath them as the temperatures dictate. Plus they are cooler on those days when waders feel good in the morning but aren't necessary all day.

They are a little more expensive than neoprenes, but more inexpensive ones are being developed every year. This is a category where “get what you pay for” applies. If you don’t fish very often during the cooler months (then you’re missing out on some great fishing!) then a cheaper pair will work.

Otherwise, spend a little extra and be confident in their construction. Getting out of your boat or yak and feeling that little trickle of cold water on your leg from a leak isn’t fun!

Jackets

A no-brainer for when it cools off. And remember if feels cooler on the water than it does when you're leaving the house. Having a waterproof jacket that you can layer under is a good idea if you’re fishing and it begins raining.

Keeping you comfortable and dealing with the elements is the idea. I’ve caught lots of fish in the rain and was glad to be able to keep fishing. But don’t mistake rain for a thunderstorm. Lightning is no joke – so be safe and get out of the water.

Long Underwear

Again, keeping you warm, comfortable, and fishing longer is the idea behind this article of clothing. And speaking of comfort, cotton is to be avoided here as it won’t keep you warm if it gets wet. There are lots of choices out there. And remember, you can always take them off if you’re too hot.

Gloves

Like socks, gloves are important because your extremities are the first to get cold. There are lots of gloves out there for duck hunters and a few for fishermen. Having some that are light enough to fish with but still keep you warm are important.

Keeping you comfortable and fishing longer is the purpose. So have the right clothing, more than enough in fact, because you can always take it off.

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